When moving at the speed of life, there are individual moments that just floor us. This is the case for a group of unrelated people living in LA. Coming together are a district attorney and his wife, police investigators and officers, a television show director and his wife, a Persian family, a locksmith and his daughter, and a pair of carjackers. Over the course of two days, their lives change dramatically as each of them encounter the others in moments of desperation or distress.
Starring: Don Cheadle (Detective Graham Waters), Loretta Devine (Shaniqua Johnson), Matt Dillon (Officer John Ryan), Tony Danza (Fred), Keith David (Lt. Dixon), Sandra Bullock (Jean Cabot), Jennifer Esposito (Ria), William Fichtner (Flanagan), Brendan Fraser (Rick Cabot), Terrence Howard (Cameron Thayer), Daniel Dae Kim (Park), Ludacris (Anthony), Thandie Newton (Christine Thayer), Michael Pena (Daniel), Ryan Phillippe (Officer Tom Hansen), Shaun Toub (Farhad), Bahar Soomekh (Dorri), Karina Arroyave (Elizabeth)
The cast for this movie is quite significant as there are multiple stories that get intertwined. Don Cheadle serves as one of the central characters and presents multiple sides to a complicated relationship with partner Ria (played by Jennifer Esposito) and his drug-addicit mother (played by Beverly Todd). He highlighting the challenges of morality and commitment to family. While the decisions of Brendan Fraser’s character greatly affect his wife Jean, Sandra Bullock exercises her acting abilities through both fear after experiencing trauma and remorse after realizing the err of her beliefs. Matt Dillon plays a bigoted officer who is confronted head on with his brutish behavior while trying to care for an ailing parent and a chance encounter with a former woman he violated. He shows one of the most significant moments of change when he encounters Thandie Newton’s character and has to recall the pain he caused her. Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate) help to articulate some of the significant stereotypes and racial discrepancies that occur throughout the remainder of the movie. The rest of the cast performs incredibly engaging scenes of life-changing moments and challenges to their character’s impressions on their morals and beliefs.
The significance of this movie has been well documented and discussed. Besides winning the Best Picture honors in 2006, organizations have used its direct presentation of discrimination and conflicts of beliefs to educate their members and employees on diversity and social justice issues. Most of the characters encounter moments where they serve as the oppressor and the oppressed. Don Cheadle’s character directly offends his partner by misrepresenting her ethnicity by calling her White, but later is confronted by the legal challenges of his brother and conflicts between crocked cops and race. Sandra Bullock’s character fears the two black men in a mostly White neighborhood, challenges her husband about feeling racist for wanting to walk away from them, projects stereotypes onto her locksmith because he is Latino with tattoos but then struggles with her beliefs when she is taken care of by her Hispanic domestic assistant after experiencing an accident. Besides challenging your beliefs and perspectives on identity, Paul Haggis successfully developed a screenplay that draws the viewer into the experiences with each character and creates emotional connections with their struggles.
I have seen this movie at least five times and there are scenes that get me every time. This has become the iconic film to challenge your beliefs on racial politics and interpersonal relationships.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5